greygirlbeast: (fry1)
Using my Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) icon today because about 4:15 a.m. I finally fell asleep watching Pitch Black for the umpteenth time. I drifted off not long after the crash of the Hunter-Gratzner. Which means the film worked. My comfort films usually do. Work to put me to sleep, I mean. Fortunately, Pitch Black is streaming from Netflix, so I could get it via the iPad. By the way, that's about the only use for Kermit the iPad that I've found, streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix.

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I just received word from Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press that The Drowning Girl: A Memoir has earned the coveted starred review in the new Publisher's Weekly. I won't post the full review for a few days, but I will excerpt this line (the rest is mostly synopsis, anyway, the last thing any book review should be concerned with):

Kiernan evokes the gripping and resonant work of Shirley Jackson in a haunting story that’s half a mad artist’s diary and half fairy tale.

I can live with that. Momentarily, I don't feel misunderstood. Though I'm sure that's just illusory and will pass shortly.

And speaking of Subterranean Press, if you've not already preordered your copy of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, you might want to do it before much longer. Remember, the limited comes with the FREE hardbound chapbook, The Yellow Book ("The Yellow Alphabet" + a new short story, "Ex Libris").

---

Yesterday, I only managed to write pages 5-7 (ms. pages 10-15, 1,256 words) of Albaster #4. Maybe I can write five today, and make up the difference.

The auction for The Drowning Girl ARC continues.

---

There was some good RP in SW:toR last night, and I read two stories, Tanith Lee's "Black Fire" (2011) and Julie E. Czerneda's "The Passenger" (1999). Both were quite excellent, but I was especially taken with the Tanith Lee piece*. These are collected, by the way, in John Joseph Adams' Lightspeed: Year One. I have a story in there, too. I just wish Orson Scott Card's name wasn't splashed across the cover of the book. I feel like I should wear gloves when I handle it.

Seven days have passed without my leaving the house (and I won't today, so make that eight), and its beginning to bother me again. I blame the weather. That sky. Getting to bed too late, waking too late. Having only five hours of daylight (or thereabouts), and needing three of them to wake up. This is my first (of four) profoundly shitty New England winters, and the workload isn't helping.

Snowed Under Without Snow,
Aunt Beast

* Though it's the Czerneda story that ends with this exquisite sentence: For like that precious bird, kept until death in a glass cage for all to see, wasn't he the last passenger of Earth?
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Wow. 2012 feels exactly like 2011, so far.

I still have to replace the OLD calendar with the NEW calendar.

Not much to say. Spooky's better. I'm pretty much well. Today I have to get the corrected ms. for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart and The Yellow Book finished, because all my other obligations have caused me to neglect this far too long (we're talking months).

If you've not yet preordered the collection (and free hardback chapbook that comes with the limited edition), please do so. Same for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, if you possibly can. Thank you.

And now I got forth to attend to little red marks on white pages.

Uncorrectable,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Well, I've survived that. Mostly, I'm just stiff and sore from lying down for the better part of two days, and bored silly, and in need of a shower. Spooky's still a bit ill, but her symptoms manifested about ten hours or so after mine did. Anyway, lousy fucking way to "ring in" the New Year.

Then again, why we do this, celebrate the exchange of one calendar for another, I admit it escapes me. We celebrated the arrival of 2011, which we apparently used up, so we celebrated the arrival of 2012. Benchmarks, I suppose. Congratulations that the world is still here. Something like that. Something must be celebrated to break up the days, most of which are unremarkable. For most.

For my part, 2011 was a vast improvement over 2010, though we struggled with a marked shortage of money the first half of the year. Still, 2011 was a year of recovery, I think, and of new beginnings. Not on the first of the year, but new beginnings strewn here and there throughout. The greatest of these is, of course, Alabaster, and my return to comics on my own terms – which I'd said for years was the only way I would return. But, too, I finished what is far and away the best novel I've written, The Drowning Girl, which will soon be out in the world. I did that, and still had the energy, somehow, to sit down and write another novel, Blood Oranges, which isn't even in the same league as The Drowning Girl, but which is quite a lot of fun, probably the last thing anyone could say about The Drowning Girl. Then there was the enormous success of Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Me (Volume 1), which still has me a little dizzy. And now Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart and The Yellow Book are on the way! Yeah, I'm tooting my own horn, as they are wont to say, but it was a good year, and the year to come ought be marvelous. And here is my recap of the short fiction I wrote this year:

01. "-30-"
02. "Random Thoughts Before a Fatal Crash"
03. "The Carnival is Dead and Gone"
04. "Untitled 35"
05. "Figurehead"
06. "Fake Plastic Trees"
07. "Down to Gehenna"
08. "The Granting Cabinet"
09. "Slouching Towards the House of Glass Coffins"
10. "Evensong"
11. "Dear Daughter Desmodus"
12. "Latitude 41°21'45.89"N, Longitude 71°29'0.62"W"
13. "Ex Libris"
14. "Another Tale of Two Cities"

That's three less than 2011, but when you consider that I wrote most of The Drowning Girl, all of Blood Oranges, the first three issues of Alabaster, and edited Two Worlds and In Between, Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, and The Yellow Book (the editing with a fucking enormous amount of help from Spooky and [livejournal.com profile] sovay) – I think that sort of explains why there was less short fiction this year. Also, I'll note that all but two of these were written for the digest.

And. Plus. The release of the "teaser" trailer for The Drowning Girl is only days away (slightly delayed, due to the illness).

There truly is little that can be said for yesterday. Most of it was spent horizontal, watching crap on the iPad, recovering. Though, I will add that you cannot banish Yog-Sothoth from any dimension with the microdrive of an iPod, Mr. Shirley. Though, I do wish that trick would work on the majority of Xtians and Republicans and on the Tea Party loons, the lot of them worse than any of the Great Old Ones or Outer Gods dreamt up by HPL. Because I'd gladly sacrifice Inara to that end.

Now, I'm going to go take a shower and hope I've enough energy left afterwards to work on Sirenia Digest. I absolutely could not afford two days of downtime, as these deadlines pile up on top of me, and now I have to scramble three times as fast to catch up. But, if Spooky's up to the trip to Whole Foods, we'll manage our annual New Years' dinner of black-eyed peas, collards, mac and cheese, and corn bread.

Vertical,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Default)
Not a good morning, this. Instead, the sort of morning you just have to keep moving through. Not because there might be something better on the other side, but because the only other option is to stop moving. And somewhere along the winding course of my life, the irrational belief was instilled in me that stopping is a Bad Thing.

Anyway...

Yesterday, post-"vacation mistake" epiphany, I wrote and answered emails. I signed the signature sheets I mentioned. We worked on the line edits for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart and The Yellow Book (and we're not too far from being finished with that). Today, more. Of everything. I think Kathryn's going down to her mom and dad's place. Would that I were going with her.

---

Yesterday, I was looking back over my Blogger entries from December 2003, and I found this passage, written on the 25th:

I will not get smarmy this morning, because I will not be a hypocrite, but I will wish you all the finest things that I can for the long year to come. Peace and freedom from tyranny and fear and repression, in all ways. The realization of dreams, or at least the luxury of the dreams themselves. The dignity that comes with pain that may not be avoided, and the strength to bear all the unbearable moments in life. Beauty and the eyes to see it. And perspective. And joy, which is a far finer thing than any passing happiness...Spooky and I have had the finest Xmas of any I've enjoyed since the late '80s.

I know why I wrote that, why I found an Xmas I could endure. What I spent a considerable bit of the day trying to puzzle out was exactly how things backslid so much between 2003 and now, what happened in the intervening seven years. Oh, I know the answer: a lot of bad shit. A fall. The whole affair left me sort of sick and confused.

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Not much else to yesterday. I did manage a decent bit of reading. Three stories: Charles Stross' "A Colder War," Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette's "Mongoose," and Don Webb's "The Great White Bed." I don't think I'm ever going to "get" Stross. I believe he and I must simply exist on different points along the dial. But, reading him yesterday, that old chestnut about SF being the literature of ideas came to mind. Who said that? Pamela Sargent? I think it was her. Anyway, sure, "A Colder War" is a great bundle of interesting ideas. But there's very little in the way of characterization, and without solid characters, a "literature of ideas" is pretty much a textbook. Characters first, and then science. All the technoporn in the world can't save a story from the vacuum created by an absence of solid, believable characters. Also, the Burgess Shale fauna isn't Precambrian, it's Middle Cambrian. Sorry. I know it's poor form, one author publicly grousing about another, but Stross' stories always leave me feeling like I'm missing something that everyone else plainly understands.

As for "Mongoose," it's a beautiful, brilliant, and delightful story. Each of those adjectives was chosen with care, by the way. I'm not just heaping hyperbole. I can also use it to illustrate a point I was trying to make yesterday. I very much dislike Lovecraftian fiction that is parody and/or attempts at literary irony. Almost without fail, they fail, those sorts of stories. The author/s, having decided they cannot possibly take Lovecraft seriously, and that no one else can, either – not in this day and age, and probably not in any day and age – turn/s to satire (usually dimwitted satire). "Mongoose," on the other hand, manages to have a lot of fun with a futuristic extrapolation of Lovecraft's universe, and never once does it feel as if the authors are mocking the source material. It is, I think, a story HPL himself probably would have loved. The difference, I believe, is that "Mongoose" never stoops to parody or derision, but chooses wit and whimsy, instead. Especially whimsy. And it just works. Brava.

It took me forever to get to sleep, but I can't blame Monsieur Insomnia. Not when I didn't get up until one p.m. the day before. I think I finally found sleep sometime after five ayem, after watching the first half hour or so of Clarence Brown's The Rains Came (1939).

Slivy,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Bowie3)
A day when you wake up two hours later than planned, well, there's not a lot you can do to salvage a day like that. Funny fucking thing is, yesterday I had a sort of panic & epiphany combo meal, realizing it was idiotic for me to think I could take a vacation from December 15th to January 3rd. That I thought the work would wait, or that I wouldn't be overwhelmed as soon as my playing hookey ended. So, I resolved to scrap the plans we had for this week (which included a trip to Yale and a trip to Marblehead, Mass.) and get back to work today.

And then...I didn't wake up until 1 p.m. (CaST).

Which sort of shredded my plans for today good and proper, and which is why it's 2:29 p.m. (CaST), and I'm only just starting my blog entry. I was going to get back to work on "The Lost Language of Mollusca and Crustacea," but now I'm thinking, instead, I'll be lucky to deal with a bunch of email (one of the things I did yesterday, post-epiphany), then sign the signature sheets for the limited edition of A Book of Horrors (to be released by P.S. Publishing). But, in case you're curious (casually or otherwise), below is a list of what I have to have done between now and the end of January, and it ought to be enough to convince you of the folly of the "much-deserved vacation":

1. Produce Sirenia Digest #73, which means finishing "The Lost Language of Mollusca and Crustacea" and writing another and as-yet-untitled science-fiction tale.
2. Editing Alabaster #3, as soon as I have my editor's notes.
3. Writing Alabaster #4
4. Keep track of the pages for Alabaster #2 as they're drawn and inked and colored.
5. Finishing making corrections to the mss. of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart and The Yellow Book (about three weeks overdue, at this point).
6. Travel to Philadelphia sometime in the second half of January to finish up filming the trailer for The Drowning Girl.
7. Get the front page of my website revamped for the release of The Drowning Girl, and get it done ASAP.
8. Compile a list of suggested panels and other assorted programming for Readercon 23 for Rose Fox.

I mean...what the fuck was I thinking! That I was tired? Sure I'm fucking tired, but that's no excuse. Last week, my psychiatrist was trying to convince me to "drop something" to reduce my workload, and I think I did a pretty unconvincing job of explaining why I can't drop anything, not without...

It's like this. Lots of people have a lot of trouble understanding what it's like to be a "famous writer" who is only just managing to squeak by financially. In this economic climate, you'd think it would be an easy enough matter to understand. But yes, the vacation is over, and I just have to hope there wasn't too much time frittered away.

As for yesterday, there was prune hamantashan, a trip to our storage unit in Pawtucket, a clove cigarette (actually, these days they're clove cigars, technically), short fiction by Norman Partridge, William Browning Spencer, and Michael Marshall Smith. Partridge's "Lesser Demons" is an interesting new take on the tiresome zombie trope, and Smith's story, "Fair Exchange" is just about the funniest Innsmouth story I've ever read. Normally, I don't like funny in my Lovecraft. Normally, I'm violently opposed to it, in fact. But if you read this story, and hear the narrator's voice as Jason Statham, from the days of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, it's a fucking hilarious story. Yesterday, the cold sky over Providence was so blue it was murderous – that wide carnivorous sky of which I've been speaking of for years.

Carnivorous,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Aeryn and Pilot)
00. I'm not feeling very bow tie this afternoon. Comments would be nice.

01. Yesterday there was email, and Subterranean Press needed some stuff from me for The Yellow Book, which, you may recall, is the FREE hardcover chapbook that accompanies the limited edition (but not the trade) of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. Little odds and ends, nothing major. And I was still waiting to hear from an editor, so I proposed to Spooky that we proceed with a long, long delayed office renovation. We spent about an hour moving a shelf and books and stuff, then spent two hours realizing that the table we wanted to put in my office would never fit (this involved Spooky calling her Mom in South County to remeasure Spooky's sister Steph's old table out in the barn). Nope. No dice. So, I have resigned myself to being stuck in an office even smaller than my last (Mansfield Avenue, Atlanta, GA), which was, at best, a third as large as my office before that (Kirkwood Lofts, Atlanta, GA). A few years from now, at this rate, they'll have me writing in a restroom stall. Ah, well. At least then I'll never have an excuse to stand up. Anyway, in the end (no pun intended), yesterday was mostly a sadly and exhausting wasted day. Though, I did leave the house for the first time in five or six days.

02. In list of weird books to give the weird people in your lives for the holidays (that would be Solstice and/or Cephalopodmas), Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, over at the Weird Fiction Review website (virtual sister of the Centipede Press print digest of the same name), in their listing Two Worlds and In Between, write:

Standing as one member of the Triad of Infernal Weird – the three who clearly have signed pacts with demons to keep the quality of their story forever elevated – that also includes Thomas Ligotti and Michael Cisco, Kiernan has emerged since the 1990s as a master of the weird tale.

Clearly, we haven't been keeping those meetings secret enough. Regardless, the VanderMeers strongly recommend the book ("This collection from Subterranean only confirms her brilliance."), along with several other very wonderfully weird titles (kittens, the word horror, when used to denote a literary genre, is so very not bow tie; parentheses are, though – trust me).

03. Today will be spent writing a very whimsical piece for Sirenia Digest #73, "The Lost Language of Littoral Mollusca and Crustacea." Think Victorian flower language (id est, floriography) and you're halfway there. I intend to enjoy writing this.

04. A point of etiquette (unless you happen to wish to seem a douchebag):

a) When a kerfuffle is made over a company publicly insulting transgender persons, and there is outrage, and said company wisely apologizes (though, note, I don't consider an apology an exoneration), and a somewhat prominent transgender author notes that at least this is evidence that change is coming, even if it's coming very, very slowly, do not

b) post in that authors' Facebook that, while you sympathize, you also find the insult funny, and then

c) when said author explains why it's not fucking funny do not

d) dig in your heels and go on about how some people take themselves too seriously, or

e) you will find yourself banned from that author's Facebook, Matthew Baker. Because admitting that you find a joke at the expense of transgender people funny, but also understanding it hurts them, but you still find it funny, makes you a hateful and transphobic (here's that word again) douchebag. I'll not dwell on the coincidences that you are also male, white, and cisgender. Also, definitely do NOT begin emailing the author afterwards to call them names, because then you'll have graduated from douchebag to troll.

05. Last night, after sandwiches from the Eastside Market deli, we watched Scott Crocker's documentary on the mistaken resurrection of the (almost certainly) extinct Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), Ghost Bird, with music by the amazing Zoë Keating. Ghost Bird is an exquisite film, not only because it documents this episode in the history of humanity's thoughtless elimination of other species, but because it serves as a case study of how science works: the theory, the methodology, responsibility, the politics, publishing, personal conflicts, and the perils of wishful thinking. See it; for the moment it can be streamed from Netflix.

After the film, there was Rift (which is to say, my social life), and Indus reached Level 40 (only ten to go). Then I read a rather good story by Ramsay Campbell, "Getting It Wrong," who needs no one to tell him how the Plight of Family X can, and usually does, make for a truly dull story. By the way, one day soon, I'll explain why several books, including Danielewski's House of Leaves, Anne River Siddons' The House Next Door, my own The Red Tree, and a few others, emphatically do not fall into the dreaded subgenre trap of "Family X Move Into the Bad House and Have Their Normative Domestic Bliss Wrecked by an Inconvenient Intrusion from Outside." The answer is surprisingly simple, though extraordinarily complex.

And now, the words.

Simply Complex and Complexly Simple,
Aunt Beast

Postscript (3:34 p.m.): Word from my editor at Penguin that the final and corrected cover of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir is now up at Amazon.
greygirlbeast: (white)
I'm keeping this short, because yesterday was a bad, bad, bad day for Spooky and me both, but more for Spooky. And no, I'm not talking about that endearing gent "Colonel Panic."

A few points though:

1) Yesterday I finished "Ex Libris," an endeavor that required of me the writing of an additional 1,424 words, bringing the story's total word count to 10,555. "Ex Libris" and "The Yellow Alphabet" will comprise The Yellow Book hardcover chapbook offered free with the limited edition of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart (pre-orders coming soon, I think). As for "Ex Libris," I think it was one of those stories where the composition consisted of me trying to pound some offending part of myself to pulp against a granite boulder. Or between two bricks. Whatever. Maybe this story is my way of punishing myself for the ending of "Tidal Forces," or the "happy" ending I gave The Drowning Girl: A Memoir. Would I call "Ex Libris" horror? Well, writing it certainly required that I draw a great deal of horror from myself and place it on the page, an amount of horror disproportionate to, say, terror, awe, and wonder. Call it what you want. I'm just glad to have it out of me. Sometimes, I dislike getting such an undimmed view of my psyche. Also, people can either deal with the fact that a large part of one paragraph is in binary code, or they can have a hissy fit. Either way works for me.

2) If you have received your copy of Two Worlds and In Between, please turn to page 300, and if there is some bizarre mutilation to that page please say so here. I have a copy with this defect, as does another person who purchased the book. I mean, a person who purchased the book. Since I didn't. Purchase it, I mean. Anyway, page 300. "The page was flayed. A thin narrow layer of paper was peeled down from the top removing the words, gradually gets wider and ends about 1.5 inches from the bottom of the page. The strip was rolled like a little pillbug." So, now. Look at page 300.

3) I wrote in my November 13th entry:

For Sirenia Digest #72, I want to do another "Question @ Hand" feature, as we haven't done one in quite a while, and I actually have fun with them. Yeah, fun. Imagine that. Anyway, I'm taking requests. That is, it would be great if people had suggestions, as I'm drawing a blank. So, you know, something along the lines of "What if you had me alone for twenty-four hours with nothing but a spork and a bottle of rubbing alcohol, and I was hogtied, and no one would ever know what you did, what would you do to me?" Only more imaginative. That sort of thing, in keeping with the flavor of the digest, which means none of that "I just want to read to you (or let you write) and make you a cup of tea" nonsense. Get your hands dirty. I do it every day.

I'm still taking suggestions. When I have the perfect one, I'll post it here, and all replies will be private and viewable to me and only me. The ones I like best will appear, anonymously, in the digest. This anonymity encourages, I hope, genuine depravity.

4) I spoke with Harlan yesterday afternoon. We played a labyrinthine game of tag until he finally got me on the phone. He isn't well, and last night he was appearing at a gathering honoring his work in television. And if, by the way, you've not read the work of Harlan Ellison, you are to remedy this at once. Deathbird Stories (1975) would be an ideal place to begin, or The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World (1969), I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream (1967), Shatterday (1980), or if you can get your hands on The Essential Ellison (1987)...look, just anywhere is a good place to start. But if you think yourself versed in science fiction and fantasy and are not intimately familiar with Harlan's work, you're wrong, and you need to fix that oversight. He is one of a tiny handful of writers without whom you'd not be reading me today. He's never been afraid to raise his voice, a voice filled with furious anger and terrible beauty, and for this I love him. I am determined to find myself in Los Angeles soon, to visit.

Furiously Terrible, By Proxy,
Aunt Beast

Postscript (2:23 p.m. CaST): Also, I want to move to Amherst, to be surrounded again by fossiliferous Mesozoic rocks; but I don't want to leave the sea.
greygirlbeast: (mandarin)
Okay, well. So far this morning, I've had my iMac pull some crazy-ass "Colonel Panic" crash on me, while half the goddamn internet was telling me that I needed to call Harlan. "Calm" has not, thus far, been le mot du jour. But I foresee smoother sailing ahead. And, by the way, I have discovered that during computer crises I have learned to channel Hoban Washburne. Just stay in my seat, flip switches, and tell Spooky, my voice treading that fine line between amused, terrified, and extraordinarily polite, that if we don't get some extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn-through this landing is gonna get pretty interesting. Though, I've learned it's best off not to define "interesting."

I am a leaf on the motherfucking wind. The wind just happens to be a hurricane.

Yesterday I wrote a fairly impressive 2,104 words on "Ex Libris." The story's word count presently stands at 9,118 (~10k words were requested), so I'll finish today. One way or the other, with or without that primary buffer panel, and those entry couplings that should have been replaced six months ago be damned. All is bright and shiny. Anyway, yes, I wrote, and Spooky continued the mind-numbing task of rereading The Drowning Girl. Well, mind-numbing is my adjective. She says that she's seen things about the book she never saw before – good things, mind you, mostly structural aspects, that apparent chaos is only apparent, and so forth – because she's having to read the ms. in this tedious fashion. Which is cool. But I couldn't have done it. My solution involved taking a train to Manhattan and...never mind. Anyway, Spooky is finishing that up even as I write, and will likely be finished by the time I complete this entry. 'Cause she rocks.

I have in mind to post a list of all the things I want to do before I die, even though I expect I won't be able to do one third of them (money and time are the most common obstacles). Problem is, I have to write out the list, then whittle it down to, say, ten.

I sincerely hope no one was offended at what I wrote yesterday regarding why the "Tale of the Ravens" project is coming along so slowly, that it's because Kathryn's been having to do so much work for me. In truth, only a single person (out of our seventy-two Kickstarter backers) has said peep. It's just that we're both very frustrated about the project. And...

WHOA

...Spooky just finished the horrid proofreading. Well, her part. I still have to go over it the way one usually goes over galley pages. But, most of the work is done, and she is free to return to the ravens. Tiddley fucking pom.

I should begin wrapping this up.

After all the writing, there was more leftover chili (living large at La casa de Kiernan), and I dozed, and watched an episode of Nova on Kīlauea, and we played a LOT of Rift (the guild is moving back towards RP mode, by the way, so, if you're interested...), then watched the premiere of Season Seven of Deadliest Catch, then played a little more Rift, and I fell asleep watching James Stewart in Billy Wilder's The Spirit of St. Louis (1957), a comfort film. And that was yesterday.

Oh, except, I also I had a look at Star Wars: The Old Republic, at game-play video and cut scenes and whatnot. I even signed up for the Beta, because it does sound interesting, that universe set three thousand years before the "first" gawdsawful movie. BUT! Jesus, the graphics are awful. I mean, Bioware seems to be trying to make the crappy graphics in Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim look good. This valley ain't just uncanny; it's downright butt ugly. Now, if we are to believe that $135 million was spent making this game, more than has ever been spent creating any video game, I'm left asking, "Where the hell did all that money go?" Was it spent on cheese doodles and Mountain Dew? Maybe it went up someone's nose, because it sure didn't go into the game's graphic design. I expect I'll play a bit, regardless. because, like I said, I love the idea.

The platypus says visiting hours are up, and we do not argue with the monotremes.

Shiny. Let's be badguys,
Aunt Beast
greygirlbeast: (Narcissa)
Until fifteen minutes ago I'd never even heard of QR Code, but I just read an article about how it's probably on its way out. This is life inside our tiny house, mostly insulated from the baffling and pointless press of current events and so-called innovations. We have always lived in the castle.

Speaking of techie stuff (right, LJ can spell "techie"), I remain entirely unimpressed by the clips I've seen from Skyrim. Looks to me like the game is suffering from the same fundamental problem it had way back with Morrowind, when I complained endlessly about how stiff the characters looked, how few "points of articulation" they seemed to possess. There is very little fluidity to the animation of Skyrim, in part because it's trying to be photorealistic (but LJ can't spell "photorealistic") and, in so doing, has entered that Uncanny Valley where animated films directed by Robert Zemeckis go to die. I saw a clip of mammoths. No, I don't know why fantasy games are so fond of mammoths...or yetis...but that's not the point. These mammoths were so almost-but-not-quite-real it hurt to look at them. And their fur looked like they used far too much product in those shaggy manes. WoW avoids the Uncanny Valley problem by wisely opting to steer far, far away from photorealism, and Rift treads a fine line. Rift looks fantastic, but one step nearer photorealism, and the illusion would collapse. Those poor Skyrim mammoths, I just want to wash their fur, and don't even get me started on how silly the first-person mode looks (I actually "laughed out loud"). And the Skyrim animation is almost as jerky as the old Morrowind animation, ten years back.

---

Yesterday, I wrote a very respectable 1,602 words on "Ex Libris." It should surprise no one this is a story about malign books. No. That's wrong. About how women and men shape, wield, and bend books for malign purposes. Meanwhile, Spooky read, line by line (x2) the galleys of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, finding the mysterious changes to the text. It would drive me to stab myself in the face with a fork, what Spooky's doing; she's made it through the first three chapters (out of ten). She may be finished by Monday evening. Late yesterday, I picked the cover layout that will be used on Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, and talked with Bill Schafer at Subterranean Press about the cover design for The Yellow Book hardback. I have to find just the right shade of yellow. I wanted to begin the introduction I'm writing for Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, which I'm calling "Sexing the Weird," and which I've actually outlined (unlike fiction, nonfiction is amenable to outlines). But I was too tired from all that writing. Instead, I had a hot bath, a fifteen minute nap, Chinese takeout, and a cup of coffee.

---

Last night, we watched the last three episodes of Torchwood: Miracle Day. When I first said that we were watching it, there were people who warned me it started off great, but fell apart somewhere in the middle. But I saw nothing of the sort. Quite the contrary. Every episode grew stronger, and Miracle Day is definitely the best Torchwood we've seen so far, in every way. Gwen truly has come into her own. I recall the first episode of the show, back in 2006, how much I hated her. Now, I adore her. That mousey little policewoman has become a bloody force of nature. I'd love to see her paired with the Ninth Doctor. Could do without the dopey husband, but I figure if she sees something in him, I ought give him the benefit of the doubt. Anyway, yes. I highly recommend Torchwood: Miracle Day – great storytelling, characterization, visuals (thank you, better production values), and so forth. I cheered. I cringed. I laughed. I almost cried. It was very, very fine.

By the way, I am beginning to believe that the old episodic nature of a lot of "television" series is changing. I tried to imagine having to watch Torchwood: Miracle Day broken up into episodes, one every week or two, broadcast over an hour and subdivided by insufferable commercials. We watched the series over three nights, all ten episodes. It's hard to believe the punch wouldn't have been lost if we'd been forced to watch it over the two-month span of its original broadcast. It makes me think that maybe some "television" producers and directors are getting wise to how many people wait for the DVDs, Hulu, or Netflix, then watch the whole thing at once.

Wake up. Time to write.

Burning with the Fires of Orc,
Aunt Beast
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Dreams that do not bear repeating; wield spite, and bury a dream in oblivion. Besides, this is one of those days when I have too many things to write about, not too few:

1. We have just passed that "magic" moment, the eleventh second of the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh year of the Twenty-First Millennium. Of course, I would argue to anyone so feeble minded to read any significance into all those elevens, alas, they actually missed the boat back in the year 1111 A.D.

2. With an emotion gently and precariously balanced between horror and bemusement did I, this morning, read the story of how the Corporation for Travel Promotion, via JWT and The Brand Union, and armed with a budget of 200 million dollars (!!!), plan to solve all of America's PR/image ills with a campaign so stupid it sucks the air from your lungs. Hideous logo aside, the resulting slogan — the "United States of Awesome Possibilities" — almost had me squirting sugar-free Red Bull from my nostrils. Did no one stop and consider that the slogan, an abomination in its own right, can readily be rendered as the acronym U-SAP? No, of course they didn't.

3. Yesterday is a day I would rather not write about. But I will write about it, just to carve another notch into the bedstead of stupid I have experienced. The good part of the day (or at least the "goodish" part) was me writing another 1,334 words on "Ex Libris." But Kathryn is checking the galley pages for The Drowning Girl: A Memoir against our photocopy of the CEM (copy-edited manuscript), to be sure that the copy-editor's changes with which I didn't agree had not been made. And...she discovered that someone had, seemingly at random, made NEW changes to the text. Changes in wording, in punctuation, and so forth. Now, this wasn't my editor, and it couldn't have been the copy-editor, so...have you ever seen a warthog with rabies? Well, then you don't know what I was like for an hour or so yesterday. This means, you see, that every page of text, every word, every punctuation mark, has to be read over again twice (galleys against photocopy of the CEM) before the galleys go back to NYC. Recall, I said yesterday they're due back on November 15th. There was a flurry of email and phone calls. When all was said and done, 1) it had been determined that no one has any idea who made the changes or on whose authority, and 2) that it was a horrible thing that had been done to my book (like I didn't know this from the beginning), and 3) that the production manager, being the saintly sort, would extend to deadline to the 21st of November, so that Kathryn has time to read every single page over again, twice. Anyway...yeah. Bullshit. But my thanks to my agent and my editor for helping me through this mess.

Later, after the new deadline had been established, granting me and Spooky those measly four extra days, Spooky and I read through what I've written so far on "Ex Libris." By the way, Subterranean Press will be publishing "Ex Libris," together with "The Yellow Alphabet," in a hardback cloth-bound "mini-collection," The Yellow Book (yes, a nod to Chambers), which will come FREE with the limited edition of Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart.

4) I may have mentioned that the ebook pirates are nipping at my heels again. Well, technically, they're nipping at the heels of my publisher. For my part, I'm ready to wash my hands of this whole ebook fiasco. Let the devil take the hindmost and all that. I just don't care anymore. NMP, because I choose for it not to be. Hey, this strategy is working just fine for the United States of Awesome Possibilities, in their approach to the country's absence of affordable healthcare, and towards the homeless, and poverty, too. So, it can work for me and ebook pirates. NMP.

5) And here we are on Veteran's Day, which I do not recognize. Instead, I continue to recognize Armistice Day, and on that note, as I do every year, I will yield the floor to the late Mr. Vonnegut:

I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one and another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, "Romeo and Juliet," for instance.

And all music is.


And So It Goes,
Aunt Beast

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Caitlín R. Kiernan

February 2012

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